Is it Last Call for Alcohol in Chatham

Is it Last Call for Alcohol in Chatham


Alcohol and liquor is a subject that has been trending in Chatham. On a recent drive down East 87th street. I noticed a public notice in the window of the former Shelter Lounge and Deli building. I looked at the sign to see that someone had filed an application with the City of Chicago Liquor commission to open a lounge under the name "Licorice Lounge". Alcohol, liquor stores, wine and spirits, and lounges have been under scrutiny in the Chatham community. Even long time operators Rothchild's Liquors and Kenwood Liquors, in the Calumet Heights community have not been spared criticism. There are those who blame the violence that has been seen in the community on the lounges and liquor stores.

Several lounge locations have had issues such as The 50 Yard Line 69 E 75th, where a patron who was kicked out came back with an accomplice to settle the score with employees and shot and wounded a Chicago Police Department off duty officer. Red Pepper's Lounge 428 E. 87th, where a patron exited the establishment walked around the corner with a female companion and was ambushed and shot to death. Laristo's 606 E 75th, where patrons standing in front of the establishment smoking became the victims of a drive by shooting.

Happy's liquor store at 7901 S Cottage Grove, resides in the infamous Beat 624 and has come under intense scrutiny. Radio personality and Pastor John Hannah along with Michelle Harris, alderman of the 8th ward worked to temporarily close the store. The complaints include selling of cheap malt liquor, wine and spirits and allowing non customers to loiter around the premises. Recently the City of Chicago Liquor commission closed Happy Liquor for building code violations. Happy's is open under the condition they maintain security for the interior and exterior of the store. The hearings are still in process

In anticipation of Walmart entering the retail environment Walgreens and Aldi Foods have both decided to stock wine and spirits in their stores that serve Chatham. Both Jewel and Food For Less grocery stores have liquor departments and sell alcohol. Many are not happy about this but the stores state they need these departments to be competitive. These stores do not sell cheap alcohol and small sizes that are popular with those who engage in public drinking.

Another argument is that while alcohol is legal it is a drug and addictive and the mere presence of a store gives a community a bad reputation. Recently a conversation on Everyblock took long time operator Kenwood Liquors to task. Kenwood Liquors has been selling liquor in the Calumet Heights prior to the racial changes that occurred in the late 1950's and early 1960's. The store which considers itself a high volume wine and spirits store. Although they do not advertise the store always has a line to get into their parking lot. The store has security, own a parking lot and does not allow unaccompanied children in their store. So this comment struck me as odd.

Liquor is a drug, a legal one witrhout doubt. But, the idea that many of our reesidents are obsessed with the purchase of even a legal drug is not a good one. These are repeat customers buying gallons of liquor at a time.
Now, adults have the right to do whatever they want as long as they don't break the law. Fine. All I am saying is that the perception of Kenwood liquors is not a good one. I contrast it with Heinemans which was north of the loop for years. Discount prices and all kinds of exotic liquors, but never the maases of people descending on the store.

Maybe this why Heineman's is not open, they could not generate customers?

Call it alcohol, wine and spirits,liquor there are those who oppose and it will become a subject for debate. So I wouldn't hold my breath for a Licorice Martini at the Licorice Lounge.

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  • do you think the wal-mart will kill the business of these places?

  • In reply to Evan Moore:

    No Walmart will take away some of the low margin business but will not be able to match the selection available at those stores. The Walmart Express is already offering alcohol and is not hurting anyone's business.

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